Why Behavioral Questions Aren’t Good Indicators of Attitude
Hiring the right employee has become more difficult over the past decade, as most candidates have a similar degree of skill and have mastered the standard interview and the expected answers to typical behavioral questions. Trying to differentiate between one candidate and another has been complicated by a shift in perspective on what employers are looking for in an employee. Unfortunately, many employers aren’t sure how to determine which candidates are the best to hire.
The research on this conundrum is now indicating that the best predictor of success in the current job market is attitude. A recent leadership study revealed that 89% of new employees fail within 18 months, and their failure is overwhelmingly related to poor attitude or interpersonal skills, not technical incompetence. If you want to find employees with the right attitude, ditch the traditional behavioral questions during the interview.
Make an Attitude Adjustment
Before interviewing, successful companies are learning to determine what kind of attitude they most need in an employee for that individual to thrive in the organization. Attitude doesn’t have to mean that an employee is servile or hardworking; it can mean anything that supports the core values of the company. A prime example would be the story of Southwest Airlines. They decided that what made the company unique and profitable was a sense of fun, so when they interviewed pilots, they looked for ways to find the playful aviators. The interviewer invited a group of applicants to try on a pair of brown shorts. Many interviewees baulked at this because it didn’t match their presupposition that an interview should be dry and formal. The pilots who did wear the shorts were perceived as more open to a fun-loving, less strict mindset.
You probably won’t have too many opportunities to do something as practical as the brown shorts scenario in an interview, but you can learn to ask the right questions. In order to interview for attitude, the structure of the questions needs to reveal a true personality, not a false front. Behavioral questions like, ïTell me about yourselfï and ïName your strengths and weaknessesï are becoming unfashionable since nearly everyone has practiced a canned answer and these questions reveal little about a person’s likely behavior in the workplace.
Change Your Approach and Discover Your People
Behavioral questions were never designed to reveal attitude, which is their short-coming. The questions typically mold the candidate around an ideal type which they emulate in their answers. If you ask someone about a time they solved a problem, for example, they will come up with a story, which is probably somewhat embellished or in some cases not even true. Even if it is a true straightforward anecdote, it will give you no information on whether the candidate is a habitual problem-solver. Asking a more general question about a person’s job might actually be more beneficial, as a high performer will naturally talk of solving problems while at work, whereas a low performer will be more likely to list duties when thinking about their last job.
If you change your behavioral questions to ones that focus more on attitude, you will see a different side of the interviewee revealed. Some attitudes you may be looking for are include perseverance and initiative. Questions that can reveal these attitudes could involve asking applicants to describe the perfect work environment, or to give an account of how they handle times when it seems the world is against them.
Asking questions that show how people process information and act on the results will allow you to see what kind of people they are, their characteristics, and what motivates them.
Make Candidates Describe Their Values
People are always going to act their best at an interview. They will be positive and polite, and this generally will continue for the first year of employment. It is often only after that that problems emerge and by then it can be difficult to make corrections. The damage to the team and to morale may already occur before you can do something about it, and some of your better performers may even leave. Needless to say, this is a serious matter that underscores the importance of taking the time to craft the right hiring interview. Attitude questions can help eliminate these issues by exposing values. Ask scenario based questions that force a candidate to discuss moral reasoning and ambiguous decision-making.
If your company is ready to explore interviews that pinpoint attitude, visit Mighty Recruiter and review the resources available for designing the right questions and scenarios.